Posts Tagged ‘Central of Georgia’

Putting the Finishing Touches on Memories

May 22, 2015



If I was forced to choose my favorite Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive, I’d probably pick the 8101, which pays tribute to the Central of Georgia.

It is not because the CofG is a favorite railroad of mine. In fact, I never saw a CofG train.

It is more a matter of association. Two Illinois Central passenger trains, the City of Miami and the Seminole, used CofG tracks during their runs between Chicago and Florida.

At one time, two CofG E units painted in the same livery that adorns the modern-day NS heritage locomotive, operated on those trains.

The CofG livery on those locomotives was short lived. IC insisted that they be painted in IC orange and brown if they were to operate on IC property.

So CofG sent them to the paint shop. I rode behind one of those locomotives in its IC colors at least once.

The Central of Georgia name was emblazoned in the IC green diamond on the nose rather than “Illinois Central”

NS 8101, the CofG tribute unit, was the last of the 20 heritage locomotives that I photographed. That alone should make it a distinctive locomotive for me.

It is one thing to photograph a locomotive, but quite another to paint one.

As I was walking through the National Train Day celebration in Toledo earlier this month, I spotted this artist putting the finishing touches on a painting of NS 8101.

I don’t know his name and he probably didn’t see me standing behind him.

Some photographers have long insisted that their craft constitutes art. Not everyone agrees and even those who do might say that many, if not most, photographs are not works of art.

A handful of men have distinguished themselves as railroad painters. The late Ted Rose comes to mind. So does Gil Reid.

A painter doesn’t need to be at the scene that they re-create, only to have an idea of what it looks like.

I paused for a moment to watch this artist exercise his craft.

Artistic painting has never been one of my strong suits. I can’t draw a crooked line and couldn’t paint one either.

So I admire someone who can, particularly if that artist can skillfully reproduce the straight lines and tiny details of a large piece of machinery.

The artist has the advantage of being able to recreate scenes that never existed.

So much of railroad photography is about being in the right place at the right time.

So much of art is having a vivid imagination, including the ability to see in your mind what your hands will create.

Both mediums have can make their subjects come alive in the minds of the viewer.

In the finished painting to the left of the artist, is a reproduction of Illinois Central passenger trains in Chicago with one of those CofG E units still wearing its original livery.

Perhaps there is an intentional juxtaposition going on here.

The NS 8101 was created to celebrate memories such as that moment in Chicago as well as to remind folks that Norfolk Southern is a descendant of a series of railroads that served certain territories for many years before changing economic conditions triggered widespread consolidation of the industry.

Perhaps those who view this painting of NS 8101 will think of that when they see it.

More likely, though, is that it will remind them of an era long after that consolidation occurred.

Whatever the case, paintings can take you back in time, remind you of the present or do both.

And that is one of the beauties of paintings.

The ability to celebrate the dual heritages of different eras is just one of the beauties of the Norfolk Southern heritage locomotive program.